A summer of working with refugees

This summer two of the world's biggest mega-events will bring people together to celebrate sport and its ability to emotionally connect with people. But while Euro 2016 and the Rio Olympics take the spotlight, grassroots interventions will seek to use the power of sport to shed light on the refugee crisis and show how sport can be a part of measures to bring about inclusion.

The UEFA Euro 2016 and the 2016 Rio Olympics, taking place in June and August, will play a role in providing a forum for human rights awareness and social inclusion in an age in which there are multiple crisis affecting communities across international borders.

One example of this is for the first time a team of refugees will compete in the Olympics as part of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) pledge to aid elite athletes affected by the worldwide refugee crisis.

Over the summer Fare will support a series of football projects lead by members and partner organisations, who will be increasing awareness of the plight of refugees and showing what can be done.

Playing for change
On 17 May women of all ages and backgrounds will meet in Copenhagen to play a new global amateur cup developed around the United Nations (UN) 17 Global Goals to transform the world by 2030, which include ending poverty and combat injustice and inequality.

The event is being held at the same time that the city hosts the Women Deliver Conference (16 and 19 May) focused on how women and girls are best included in global development initiatives.

At Global Goals Fare will support the participation of Girl Power, a team composed of eight players from migrant backgrounds who work across Europe in refugee centres promoting sporting and cultural activities for refugees.

Khalida Popal, director and founder of Girl Power, is herself a refugee. Living in Denmark since 2012, Khalida fled Afghanistan, her native country, in 2011 for death threats after years spent as an outspoken advocate for women's rights and a founding member of Afghanistan's first women's national soccer team. The idea of founding Girl Power emerged after her experiences living in asylum centres in Norway and Denmark.

Refugee tournaments in France, Germany and Italy
In France, Fare member Les Dégommeuses used the publicity and heightened public interest around EURO 2016 to highlight the plight of refugees and football’s role in helping inclusion.

Just before the tournament kick-off, the Paris based LGBTI rights group organised the Football For Freedom festival, which consisted of a weeklong of cultural, sporting and educational activities in which participants addressed concerns around human rights, inclusion practices and the fight against discrimination.

Twelve LGBTI refugee players living in Europe were invited to lead each of the team's contesting the festival's tournament and to participate in the week long interventions between 03-10 June. Participants came from countries including Lybia, Armenia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Kenya from which they were forced to seek refugee due to their sexual orientation.

In a similar move, Fare members in Italy and Germany will also focus their events on sport’s role in working refugees.

In Modena, Italy, the well-established Mondiali Antirazzisti marked its 20th anniversary by highlighting Europe’s refugee crisis. Debates and refugee participation were a part of this year's event.

Discover Football’s women’s only cultural festival will bring together women from Islamic countries and refugees living in Germany and other European states to encourage women to use the game to break stereotypes.

The Fare-backed event includes a football tournament, a four-day long training camp for over 60 girls from refugee shelters in Berlin, workshops, cultural initiatives, capacity training sessions for coaches and an action day at refugee shelters in Berlin.

The player-participants consist of women actively engaged with refugees in their own coun­tries, female refugees, and women affected by migration in their countries.

Addressing human rights challenges
On 2 and 3 June the Council of Europe held a conference in Vienna, Austria, on sport and refugees that debated the role of sports clubs and integration processes, explored the policies of sports clubs, acknowledged challenges and discussed methods to overcome these.

Examples of good practice and long-term solutions aimed at helping integrate newly arrived refugees were also highlighted at the conference.

Delegates of different organisations of the Fare network were be in attendance to share practical information on the matter.

Work with refugees is increasingly at the core of the work of the Fare network. Over the summer, we will also support a football event at the Dunkirk refugee camp, in France. In Budapest, Hungary, Subjective Values organised a day-long tournament around Refugee Day (on 26 June), and there will be a tournament for unaccompanied minors in Austria run by Muslim Women Austria.

In addition, Polish member Fundacja dla Wolności have started a crowdfunding campaign to support their work with over 100 refugee children living in the Targowek refugee centre in Warsaw.

In 2015, as part of their work to promote the inclusion of refugees in Poland Fundacja dla Wolności conducted 22 hours of sports sessions and organised 14 educational trips. Donations to the fund can be made until 30 June.

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